EOA Summer Dinner: Nita Clarke heralds ‘sea change’ for UK business as an opportunity for EO sector

Members attending the Summer Dinner 2019 heard how a sea change in the way the role of business in society is seen, creates a perfect storm to grow EO.

The annual dinner was sponsored by global engineering, management, and development consultancy Mott MacDonald with the drinks reception sponsored by pensions specialists MyCSP.

Guest speaker Nita Clarke OBE, Director of the IPA, told the room of 150 EOA members that while the connections between engagement, EO and productivity have been talked about with authority for the past decade, the appetite in the UK for businesses to do well while doing good is at an all-time high.

In her speech, Nita said: “My fundamental point here is that the national conversation on the role and responsibilities of company ownership, of fairness in the share of national wealth, of work and employment, is undergoing a sea change, into something rich and strange that we haven’t seen before in our lifetimes.

“There is a ferment, not just about capitalism and how to reform it, but an increasing focus on the workplace, on how employees are treated, how effectively they are aligned with the purpose of the organisation how they are listened to, how they are engaged.”

Once again, the Summer Dinner had a backdrop of political change: in 2016 it was the EU referendum; 2017 was the general election, and 2018 was consumed by talks of the Brexit deal. This year we were faced with the race for the Conservative leadership and role of Prime Minister. The debates among those running continued to hot up as we walked through the doors of power to the EOA’s Summer Dinner in the Palace of Westminster.

Deb Oxley OBE, Chief Executive of the EOA, reflected on the growth of the sector and the great strides that had been made since the launch of the Ownership Dividend report almost a year ago:

“After 12 months of focus, we’ve increased the profile and influence of the EOA, extended the reach of employee ownership – via our partners, as a means of multiplying awareness and capacity building and developed the credibility of employee ownership demonstrating its impact and potential.

“The level of demand for EO hit an all-time high in 2018 but we must continue to share the evidence of the Ownership Dividend report so it becomes even better known and respected by all the relevant influencers – politically, in business and in the media.”